A Better World ‘Neighbours’ steps up to aid local family

Program reaches out to help Central Albertans with various projects

DEMOLITION TIME - A Better World Neighbours volunteer Keenan Rose gets to work demolishing a bathtub as construction begins for this year’s signature project on May 5th.

DEMOLITION TIME - A Better World Neighbours volunteer Keenan Rose gets to work demolishing a bathtub as construction begins for this year’s signature project on May 5th.

When Angela Trca and Todd Bawtinheimer bought their home in Red Deer, they knew it was going to be a bit of a fixer-upper.

“It was a bank foreclosure, so it was trash,” said Trca.

Not only was the house in disrepair, Trca said she and her family also planned to make a few renovations to accommodate her daughter, Nyah.

Nyah is 11-years-old and has a number of disabilities, such as epilepsy and cerebral palsy, brought on by an unusual chromosomal trans-location, said Trca. Because of these complications, Nyah cannot move around without being pushed in a wheelchair and she is also non-verbal.

Because Nyah needs so much assistance, Trca has not been able to work outside the home in several years. This put a financial strain on the family of four and made it difficult for them to get started on the necessary renovations.

In addition to that, Trca said that Bawtinheimer had planned to do a lot of the work on the house himself. However, before he was able to, he was involved in a serious workplace accident last November that left him unable to do the work himself.

“We couldn’t figure out a way to make this happen, and then Todd’s accident sealed our fate.”

That is where A Better World Neighbours stepped in. A Better World Neighbours is the local branch of the well-known A Better World Foundation that is based in Lacombe. While A Better World engages in charitable projects overseas, Neighbours is dedicated to doing the same thing a little closer to home.

Ronda Ziakris, project coordinator for A Better World Neighbours, said that Trca’s family had been nominated for this year’s signature project. She said even the nomination felt like “An answered prayer.”

“I was just shocked,” said Trca. “I was like, really? Wow.”

When Trca later learned their nomination would be the signature project this year, her reaction was much the same. She added that she felt humbled by such a showing of support.

Ziakris said it is exactly the kind of reaction Neighbours hopes to give.

“There is no greater feeling,” said Ziakris. She added that Trca, like many subjects of Neighbour’s projects, has struggled with accepting this assistance. But, Ziakris has told her that accepting help is a gift too.

“When you allow people to bless you, you are also blessing them,” said Ziakris. “It’s not easy to accept help.”

A Better World is best known for its work in Eastern Africa and other countries in need throughout the world. However, Ziakris said it is important to remember there are people at home who need help too.

“Our neighbours need our help,” said Ziakris. “People living right next door to us are hurting and sometimes we don’t even know it.”

She and the rest of her crew began work on the home on May 5. Trca and her family will be out of the home during the construction and will return to see the completed project.

For this project, Neighbours will be removing the bathtub and shower from the bathroom to install a bath table and a barrier-free shower. They will also be widening the doorways in a few of the rooms, including Nyah’s bedroom and the bathroom.

In the living room, a wheelchair ramp will be installed so that Nyah can spend time with her parents and older brother Jacob, 11, as a family. Outside, new concrete will be poured to improve an existing wheelchair ramp entrance to the home.

Neighbours is a fitting name for A Better World local organization not only because it offers assistance locally, but also because that is where its support comes from.

Ziakris said that with most Neighbours’ projects, little donations are given in the way of funding. Instead, local businesses donate resources so that projects can be completed.

“One hundred per cent of the materials are donated,” said Ziakris. She said that, in this particular project the paint, flooring and tile were all donated. Of course, the labour is also done by volunteers donating their time and expertise as well.